Rural veterinarian shortage affecting area ranchers

Rural veterinarian shortage affecting area ranchers

Amarillo, TX - It's a growing problem in Texas that's affecting area ranchers. There's a shortage of rural veterinarians in our area.

More urban veterinarians are now trying to help. Large animals are not getting the attention they need.

Every year, around five to ten students go to veterinary school at West Texas A&M, but only around thirty percent specialize in the rural field.

So small animal veterinarians are hoping to be a temporary solution.

"I actually had people bring goats and sheep up here as well even though we're primarily a small animal practice, we've had calves in here," says Yacha Peters, DVM, Hope Veterinary Clinic.

Hope Veterinary Clinic has received a significant increase in calls regarding large animals, they've had to step up to meet the demand.

"A lot of the times you just have to find a way to make it work because the need is there and there isn't always somebody there to fill those demands," says Yacha Peters, DVM, Hope Veterinary Clinic.

There are many speculations as to what is causing the shortage.

"I think part of it is the decline of rural farming in America, a lot of people aren't growing up on farms anymore and so when they go to veterinary school that's not the first place they think of going to practice. Not only that but the huge costs for veterinary school," says Yacha Peters, DVM, Hope Veterinary Clinic.

Area Rancher Rusty Baker knows first hand the struggle their industry faces because of the shortage.

"Well it's extremely important to the rancher because it's the health of his whole heard. I mean, that's his livelihood and if he doesn't get to him when their vaccinations are due or if it's something like calf crop that needs a vaccination, then it interrupts his procedures," says Rusty Baker, Rancher, Ranchers Supply.

There are some government relief programs now in place, so more students will be encouraged to become rural veterinarians.

The USDA has a program in which they repay the student loans of veterinary school graduates if they work in designated locations with veterinarian shortages.

The program repays up to $75,000 in loans for accepted participants.

Applications can be found on the USDA website.